Ever since man took to the air, the humankind has been working on improving the speed and size of aircraft. We have compiled a list of eleven of the world’s biggest planes that showcase just how far we have come from thinking of flying and actually doing it! The list has been sorted on the basis of wingspan. There are some bigger planes out there, but we decided to stick to the ones that we like more!
The “Spruce Goose”
This one features a wingspan of 97.54 meters with a length of 66.65 meters and an empty weight of 113,399 kg. The Hughes H-4 Hercules ‘Spruce Goose’ has the record for the largest wingspan of any plan that has flown. She was created as a prototype strategic airlift flying boat and was created by the well-known Hughes Aircraft Company.
It has 8 Pratt and Whitney R-4360 Wasp radial engines and has only completed a small test flight in 1947. The project was never officially completed and the plane remains to be one of its kind. The estimated cost of the project is said to be $250 million.
The Antonov An-225 Mriya
The Antonov An-225 Mriya has a wingspan of 88.4 meters and a length of 84 meters. It boasts an empty weight of 285,000 kg. It is also one of the biggest aircraft around the globe and is one of a kind similar to the Spruce Goose. An-225 is a Soviet-era Super Heavy Transporter. It was given the codename of Cossack by the NATO forces during the Cold War. It first flew back in 1988 and completed a 74-minute long flight from Kiev.
The Airbus A380-800
The Airbus A380-800 offers a wingspan of 79.75 meters and a length of 72.72 meters. It has an empty weight of 277,000 kg. The Airbus A380-800 is the world’s biggest passenger airliner. It was designed as a double-decker plane and was created to put more passengers into a single plane per flight thus relieving the congestion from big air hubs. That was the theory but in actual it is used with only 450-550 passengers despite having a capacity of 850. It made its first flight in April 2005 and entered service in 2007.
The Antonov An-124
The Antonov An-124 is termed as the Mriya’s little sister and offers a wingspan of 73.3 meters while sporting a length of 68.96 meters. It has an empty weight of 175,000kg. It was created by the same company that manufactures the huge An-225. The An-124 is the biggest military transporter, and was once the heaviest mass-produced aircraft. It had its first flight in 1982 and entered active service in 1986. It was given the name of Condor by NATO forces during the Cold War. A total of 55 units were created with production ceasing in 2004.
The Boeing 747-8
The Boeing 747-8 has a wingspan of 68.4 meters and a length of 76.3 meters. It boasts an empty weight of 220,128 kg. It was designed and built by Boeing and has been in active service since 2011. It was built using the classic designs of the 747 series. However, in comparison, it had newer engines, increased length, new wings, and enhanced efficiency to its predecessors. It took its first flight in 2010 and is the longest of all airlines that are currently in operation.
The Lockheed Galaxy C-5
The Lockheed Galaxy C-5 features a wingspan of 67.89 meters and a length of 75.31 meters. It has an empty weight of 172,371 kg. It is surpassed in weight and wingspan only by the Antonov An-124. It is the largest military transporter, by length. It is currently being used by the USAF for intercontinental-range strategic airlift operations and oversized load transportation. It first flew back in 1968 and entered service officially in 1970. She has spent almost 50 years in service!
The Boeing 747 Dreamlifter
The Boeing 747 Dreamlifter boasts a wingspan of 64.4 meters and a length of 71.68 meters. It has an empty weight of 180,530 kg. It once had the largest cargo hold but was surpassed by the Airbus Beluga XL. Nonetheless, it still is heavier, longer, and has a bigger wingspan than the Beluga. It first flew in 2006 and entered into service in 2007. A total of 4 of these have been created.
Boeing B-52 remains a legend despite many aircraft that are bigger and heavier. The Boeing B-52 has a wingspan of 56.4 meters and a length of 48.5 meters. It has an empty weight of 83,250 kg. It took its first flight in 1952 and entered official service in 1955. It is in active service with the USAF ever since. Its bomb bays can hold 32,000 kg of payload over a distance of 14,080km without needing to refuel. A total of 740 units have been created so far!
The Tupolev Tu-160
The Tupolev Tu-160 is the largest Mach 2+ aircraft with a wingspan of 55.7 meters and a length of 54.1 meters. It has an empty weight of 110,000 kg. It first flew in 1981 and entered service in 1987. It was designed as a strategic bomber and is the biggest supersonic aircraft and the largest swept-wing aircraft. As of now, there are about 16 of these in service for the Russian Air Force. It was given the name of Blackjack by NATO.
The “Super Guppy”
The Super Guppy was created by the Aero Spacelines and has a wingspan of 47.63 meters with a length of 43.84 meters. It has an empty weight of 46,093 kg. It flew for the first time back in 1965 and is still in active service. Only five of these were built over two variants. NASA relies on Super Guppy for transportation of NASA’s spacecraft and rocket components.
The Stratolaunch is on its way to the first flight. It will feature a wingspan of 117 meters and a length of 73 meters. Its empty weight will be 226,796 kg and it will be surpassing the Hughes H-4 Hercules once it takes flight. The project that is handling the Stratolaunch was founded by the co-founder of Microsoft, Paul Allen. It is intended for taking care of the needs of the private space industry. It will be conducting test flights in 2019 and will undergo a commercial launch by 2020.